Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Executive Director Nuse Tapped to Advise on Hiring New VT Fish and Wildlife Commissioner

Newly appointed Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources, Deb Markowitz,  asked me to help identify the most important atributes for a new Commissioner of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department and to assist in the hiring process. Today, along with former commissioner and NWF regional representative, Steve Wright, we went over the resumes' with Secretary Markowitz and narrowed the field to three. She will now interview the finalist and make her recommendation to Governor Elect Shumlin.
I was honored to be asked to assist and heartened by the openness of the process. It was also clear that comptience, experience, knowledge of the science and the people served by the Department was important. Politics was not on the list.
I have a very good feeling that the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Dept will be under excellent management come January and they will be well supported by Governor Shumlin and Secretary Markowitz.

34 comments:

  1. Hey Eric,
    Whom are the three you and Steve selected and the one Deb will interview?

    Merry Christmas.

    Sincerely,
    James

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  2. Eric:

    I would also be interested in knowing who you and Steve have selected.

    Frank Stanley

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  3. I hope you all choose that guy named Wayne Laroche, he's done a great job thus far...

    Merry Christmas...

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  4. Hopefully it's somebody who can come to grips with broad based funding and take the department forward rather than one of the people who would rather see the department revert to it's game centric former self.

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  5. Eric, this is good news. A lot of folks were concerned about another potential political appointment - having you and Steve review resumes was an excellent idea by someone - I hope this is not just for show. Can you tell us the 3 names? For the sake of transparency that would seem acceptable. Maine has done so.

    Also, as a side note: a sportsman's group in Maine surveyed all gubernatorial candidates a couple months before the recent election to get their viewpoints on certian topics, such as potential appointments and a consitutional change for braod-based funding for F&W (% of tax $ on non-consumptive recreatinal purchases like kayaks, hiking boots, bird seed etc). I suggest that some sportsman's group in VT get simiarly organized and proactive in the future.

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  6. Upon re-reading my post, I apologize for overstating the role Steve and I played in the selection process. We were used as a sounding board for the resume's submitted to the transition team. I understand there are other folks under consideration and interviews have been scheduled.
    Sorry, I'm not at liberty to name names, but I can say it was a strong field.

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  7. Thanks, Eric.

    Deb said as much yesterday. Oddly, though, I am not sure why the misunderstanding about "openness." What was open is now secret, except for the fact she was quite willing to indicate Laroche was not a candidate, despite his submitting a letter stating his interest. They did the same thing to Justin at DEC, though, despite Admin claims to the contrary. They were stuck on that one, though. Needed a place for Mears and could not make Markowitz DEC commissioner. And, bizarrely, they were quite willing to discuss Ed Gallo as a candidate for fish commish. Why some secret and some not? Do you know? Maybe for effect ... a little bread and circus?

    Too bad the process is already tainted. Now we get a compromised commissioner from the outset, no matter who it is, who certainly will be in no position to take a stand on broad-based funding given the Governor-Elect's stated opposition to new taxes and a stated need to cut budgets further. Hopefully, license buyers will be treated with care or we risk losing further dollars for important habitat work ... something species specific zealots seemingly forget. As Steve and George know from working with me on the funding study committee I chaired (I asked Jim Shallow to be my co-chair), it matters little what any commissioner personally believes about funding. They answer to the 5th Floor and the Legislature. If I remember the numbers correctly, Laroche and his team gave me a request for an enormous budget increase ($50 mil). Finance had a seizure and accused Laroche and Decker of trying subvert the overall budgeting process. Not true. I asked them to give me an honest budget, and they did. That was my job. They got slapped down by D's and R's.

    On another note, Deb told our Forest Policy Committee yesterday that she would open to taking more resumes.

    Hopefully they hire someone based on their proven ability to navigate complicated scientific, financial, and political issues--that almost always land in the media--and not someone based on their "religion." A "talking points" commissioner will sink us all, despite the hugs and kisses confirmation hearings you always get with single party rule. The greatest irony is that the commissioner we just tossed out will prove to be the least political of all--appointed by a Republican and confirmed by an overwhelmingly controlled Democrat Senate--some 29 to 1 or 28 to 2. And he probably would have gotten confirmed unanimously were it not for Steve's personal attack campaign that he and Chief Williams attempted in hopes of derailing a bipartisan appointment. Now we have Peter telling us he wants a bipartisan administration and they alienate the only truly bipartisan candidate on the "ballot" for the job.

    Funny stuff, politics. Silly humans, we are, eh?

    Thanks, Eric.

    Sincerely,
    James

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  8. Thanks, Eric.

    Deb said as much yesterday. Oddly, though, I am not sure why the misunderstanding about "openness." What was open is now secret, except for the fact she was quite willing to indicate Laroche was not a candidate, despite his submitting a letter stating his interest. They did the same thing to Justin at DEC, though, despite Admin claims to the contrary. They were stuck on that one, though. Needed a place for Mears and could not make Markowitz DEC commissioner. And, bizarrely, they were quite willing to discuss Ed Gallo as a candidate for fish commish. Why some secret and some not? Do you know? Maybe for effect ... a little bread and circus?

    Too bad the process is already tainted. Now we get a compromised commissioner from the outset, no matter who it is, who certainly will be in no position to take a stand on broad-based funding given the Governor-Elect's stated opposition to new taxes and a stated need to cut budgets further. Hopefully, license buyers will be treated with care or we risk losing further dollars for important habitat work ... something species specific zealots seemingly forget. As Steve and George know from working with me on the funding study committee I chaired (I asked Jim Shallow to be my co-chair), it matters little what any commissioner personally believes about funding. They answer to the 5th Floor and the Legislature. If I remember the numbers correctly, Laroche and his team gave me a request for an enormous budget increase ($50 mil). Finance had a seizure and accused Laroche and Decker of trying subvert the overall budgeting process. Not true. I asked them to give me an honest budget, and they did. That was my job. They got slapped down by D's and R's.

    On another note, Deb told our Forest Policy Committee yesterday that she would open to taking more resumes.

    Hopefully they hire someone based on their proven ability to navigate complicated scientific, financial, and political issues--that almost always land in the media--and not someone based on their "religion." A "talking points" commissioner will sink us all, despite the hugs and kisses confirmation hearings you always get with single party rule. The greatest irony is that the commissioner we just tossed out will prove to be the least political of all--appointed by a Republican and confirmed by an overwhelmingly controlled Democrat Senate--some 29 to 1 or 28 to 2. And he probably would have gotten confirmed unanimously were it not for Steve's personal attack campaign that he and Chief Williams attempted in hopes of derailing a bipartisan appointment. Now we have Peter telling us he wants a bipartisan administration and they alienate the only truly bipartisan candidate on the "ballot" for the job.

    Funny stuff, politics. Silly humans, we are, eh?

    Thanks, Eric.

    Sincerely,
    James

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  9. James,
    It is my understanding that the application process closed several days ago (which is also what Secretary Markowitz told the folks at the AIV meeting). She is still interviewing people who applied and she will be making her recommendation to the Governor-elect sometime next week. On the issue of current Commissioners and Secretaries, it should not be surprising that a new governor would want to create a fresh team. One of the great things about elections is that it allows new people to come in and take a fresh look at old problems.
    I agree with you that the VT Wildlife Partnership should continue to advocate for sustainable, broad-based funding for the Fish and Wildlife Dept. I like the legislation recently passed recently in Iowa that allocates a % of the sales tax to natural resources, but only if and when the sales tax is increased some time in the future.
    I look forward to chatting with you at the Yankee Classic. The Warden's Assn is considering selling my book as a fund raiser, so I will be there signing books.

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  10. Erik,
    Politically speaking, fair chase and or other discussions as to subjective ethics and aestetics are out of place. And you might be better off politically to discipline yourself to avoid these.

    Appointees to ANR and F and W need to recognize that our cultural heritage, human and natural resources are business we can develop to improve our economy. Developing business through these are in line with Vermont's Independent and resourceful spirit.

    No official or appointee will want to be remembered for legislation that represents an economic setback now. Our governor is a business person. VT Fish and Wildlfe is a place where funds perform to make VT $. And where many families draw closer. All so positive. Too bad there's a few like you, bent on an ethics platform, when economic solutions are badly needed.

    You've shown apathy toward enviro organizations.
    Ones that have restricted activities and access in neighboring states. Ones that threaten traditional and rural economies. Insisting that F and W policy should mess around with subjective aesthetic preferences and ethical discussions clearly fumbles our op to develop business and utilize resources. Helping to find funds for Dept and support is very noble. Helping VT develop business though it's outdoors human natural resources is more mindful though.

    Now is not the time to ask the "fair Chase guy" who can best serve to develop biz with traditional economy.

    ANR and Department of F and W are a wonderful non-partisan cooperation model. And a model of funds that perform to our economic advantage. Getting that model to optimize economic opportunites brings hope to rural economies at a critical time.

    I'm for business minded appointees to ANR and F and W. I'm not confident you could be a resource for recommending what is best for our economy now.

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  11. Anon December 17, 2010 10:50 AM,

    Let me guess, your resume was put into the circular file.

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  12. I for one am very disappointed the Wayne Laroche is not being considered, even though he was interested in continuing his role as commissioner. He has done an outstanding job. Why on earth was he not considered? Very disappointing indeed.
    Carl Erickson

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  13. "Hopefully they hire someone based on their proven ability to navigate complicated scientific, financial, and political issues--that almost always land in the media--"

    A unicorn?

    Don't expect a political appointment not to be a political appointment. I find confirmation of Laroche or any commissioner by the Democratic senate more of a "no significant issues" statement rather than a bipartisan rubberstamp. The senate is not allowed to submit their own candidate.

    Not sure why some comments were made over some candidates, but I think Ed Gallo wouldn't have the qualifications. He has no background in wildlife biology or in this level of management. So perhaps, the comments were a few crumbs tossed to the curious. Without context, it's hard to say whether they were political theatre, an honest conversational mistake, or some attempt at obtaining an opinion.

    In my opinion, there should be no expectation of openness for this process, other than eventually finding out the person selected.

    Broad based funding doesn't have a chance if the new commissioner doesn't support the concept. If the new commissioner stands up in front of the legislature and claims he doesn't need additional funds (deja vu all over again), then we can't expect to gain any ground. The biggest hurdle is the current economy. Despite the economy, the new administration offers a better chance at moving forward than the current one. The Douglas administration would surely veto any funding measure.

    In my opinion, it's good to have change. We need new faces in these roles.

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  14. Anon, December 17, 2010 10:50 AM

    WTF are you babbling about? learn the issues before forming or expressing an opinion. What is the mission of the F&W Dept? How are they historically and currently funded? Answer these questions for yourself and see what is wrong with this picture.

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  15. As I recall, Laroche wasn't so much for finding additional funding sources. see:

    http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/blog/mattc/2008_03_01_archive.html

    On one hand Laroche gives the funding study committee a whopping $50 million budget increase figure and on the other claims the department doesn't need additional funds and that the department is low priority. Laroche can't be trusted when it comes to broad based funding. If the details of funding aren't to his political liking, he can simply say the department doesn't need money.

    In general, people can expect a complete turn over of leadership positions under a new governor on the basis that the new administration doesn't want it's decisions to be undermined.

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  16. Hey WTF.

    Not referring to just department funding
    and/mission.

    But urging that some really good economic solutions for VT are in the sector of our traditional economy. Which includes hunting and angling.

    I understand also that VT Fish and Wildlife Board Members are not to consider economic impact when ruling.

    Right now, here and today........everyone should be considerate of economic impact and decisions taking place in F and W and ANR and every department. There are some silver linings for Vermont's economy in this sector. That aren't in the form of Federal Funds.

    That's why it's valuable to identify VT's natural resources as home spun stimulus to ourselves.

    Here's one thought: An incentive to ski resorts to promote hunting and angling ops on their off months May - Oct. Most resorts forests are managed for wildlife habitat. Turkey and trout in May. Hi quality combo experieince in VT.

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  17. Although May might have slim attendance, most ski areas don't have off months any more. They offer things like downhill biking and skateboarding, kayaking, mountain and road biking, hiking, and swimming. My guess is that a hunting offering or promotion would not be compatible and ski areas wouldn't go anywhere near the concept at the risk of losing current customers. I would also think the state would never break even on the cost of the incentives and that the participation rate would be so low that the ski areas would not show a profit. Regarding fishing, it's already promoted and listed at some mountains like Okemo and Smuggs.

    But really, why attempt to tax (as in license fee) a greater number of consumptive users when we already have a large body of non-consumptive users who really aren't taxed at all. Attempting to create business models around hunting and fishing is nice, but what we're facing is a need to change the funding model to include this set of users.

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  18. Hello Eric,
    Thank you ... I offer the following in response:

    Eric C. Nuse said...
    "It is my understanding that the application process closed several days ago (which is also what Secretary Markowitz told the folks at the AIV meeting)."

    James Ehlers says ...
    Not true, Eric. I was there. She told us to encourage others to send her resumes, but "not too many."


    Eric Nuse said:
    "On the issue of current Commissioners and Secretaries, it should not be surprising that a new governor would want to create a fresh team."

    James Ehlers says:
    Sure, Eric. I agree. That is why I find the secrecy amusing. If the process is open, like you say, how come we cannot know who is applying for the "fresh team"? Deb told me there were many others advising her, besides you, but she would not say who because that was confidential. How come you advising her was not confidential? And why will Deb not say if she submitted a resume for her appointment consideration? Games, I say.

    I am all for broad-based funding, as is Laroche the last time we discussed the matter. Now, given his disrespectful dismissal, we can get his help in advancing that cause.

    Do you really think if George Gay or Kim Royar or Tom Decker or any other rumored candidate becomes commissioner that they will be able to usurp the wishes of the 5th Floor? I don't. I think anyone that does is naive, actually. Best we can hope for is someone else like Laroche that has the respect of of the widest possible constituency ...

    Happy to chat at Yankee or even before, Eric. I am curious about the progress on the Nelson legislation since we last spoke. Is Kate going to be the lead sponsor regardless of the concerns I have heard regarding her position on
    "Pete the monkey"?

    Thank you, Eric.

    Pax et bonum.

    James

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  19. James,
    The latest news I have on the legislation to repeal the Nelson Amendment is that Rep Deen will be introducing a bill early in the session to repeal the amendment, strengthen the public trust of wildlife in VT, restore VFWD as the managers of our wildlife the VFW Board as the rule makings for wildlife, and ban any profit making from hunting deer or moose in the enclosed area. When I last heard Rep Deen had 30 + sponsors signed on including Kate.
    I agree with you that Commissioner Laroche was put in a conflicted position of following orders from the Governors office and fulfilling his sworn duty to be the trustee of our public trust. It points to a need to systemically free the Commissioner from short term politics and weld them to the trustee role. The simplest way might be to appoint commissioners to a set term of say 4 years and only be able to remover them with cause, just as other civil servants can be fired. This is a national issue, not just a Vermont one. Last I heard the average length of service for Commissioners or Directors was very short. (seems like it was less than 3 years).
    I would welcome Wayne/ support for broad based, sustainable funding (another national problem). Gov Elect Shumlin supported this as Senator and hopefully will be supportive as Governor. As the economy recovers the timing for passing legislation to fix this historic inequity will improve. But again the sporting/conservation leaders must stay united and focused or we will lose again.

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  20. Any idea on AG. commissioner? OR Will this position be "farmer" appointed? Or just another "special leiason"? Does it have any importance? Will the deputy comm. continue to lie about Ag.'s "teeth"? Will "questionable standing with the dept." continue? OOH, Yea!
    Bernie Lewis offered his legal know how, has he contacted you? What says the V.T. Law school? Was that as big a joke as I think it was?

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  21. Not sure if those deciding on the new F&W commissioner read these comments, but, for what it is worth, I'm throwing my hat in the ring for Ed Gallo. He is VERY AWARE of the current issues and programs currently in use in the state of VT. He has a history of being fair and listening to all sides before making up his own mind. He is an ideal candidate for the position and I feel he would be a true asset to the state of VT and the Fish and Wildlife Department.
    Regards,
    Carl Erickson

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  22. There is no way that Ed Gallo will be the next commissioner of F&W. You can bet the house on that.

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  23. Weirder things have happened. However it would be rather baffling decision if in fact Gay, Royar, and Decker also submitted resumes.

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  24. I must admit that women are joining the hunting ranks in good numbers and bring new qualities that are much less mocho and more caring and concerning. Not many women poach or kill just to brag.
    Rod Elmer

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  25. Kim has good sense and would do a great job. She took much undeserved criticism associated with a proposed wanton waste rule when she was just trying to prtoect trappers. She traps. The same fools that criticized her for that are the ones that opposed broad-based funding for F&W Dept b/c they think hunters will somehow lose their influence over game management. absolute foolishness. More funding means more public hunting lands and habitat improvements. time to start making the non-consumptive users pay their share. it is no longer F&G; it is F&W, since 1983. Gallo would be an absolute trainwreck; no way that happens.

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  26. The administration better be careful with this one. We are watching...and we will respond if it is a poor choice. I believe Ed Gallo would be a good option...by the way. Also, it sounds to me like there is secrecy only when it suits those involved. Kind of makes you curious as to who is advising the administration in secrecy. Obviously not sources the hunting community would feel particularly encouraged about. I mean if Eric Nuse (No offense Eric) is a safe name to float out there...it kind of makes you wonder who isn't?

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  27. The H.A.T. crowd,which seems to be those pushing for Gallo,sure is fighting to retain their last ounce of supposed relevancy here. I'm betting a bunch of emails and phone calls to Markowitz and Shummy from that group is likely to do the opposite of the intended effect, but hey, go right on ahead. Like 5:04 and 2:12 wrote, the chances that Gallo gets an even half-serious look are less than slim to none.

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  28. Are you all surprised you don't know who is possible for the job? The rights of individuals to apply for a job and not have their current boss know about it would be something understandable, right? I know it is a public office and often standards are different, but won't it be nice for applicants privacy? Word will get out it usually does. save the bickering for problems there will be lots!

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  29. Hey 10:20, it sounds like a lot of people are trying to "maintain their relevancy".

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  30. Looks like the "Anti Gallo" crowd are are getting worried,,,,,, We need a Manager at the top of F&W not another biologist.

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  31. There was a comment up the list a ways asking about the Vermont Law school's findings concerning the Nelson Amendment. I don't have the student's final paper yet, but they were going to focus on the constitutionality of the law. I will report back when we get a copy.

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  32. Well, I've read some assessments of the VT FWD landscape and HAT, but this really nails it on the head.

    http://www.scottchurchdirect.com/ted-williams.aspx/no-pay-no-say

    Gallo never stood a chance and I'm glad Laroche is out.

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  33. First, Royar is as anti-trapping as they come, setting a muskrat trap and a mouse trap doesnt make you a trapper, she has been anti trapping since the day she was born, has made trapping in vermont a joke.
    she was selected to be the next tree hugger as commis, the word is they knew she'd get flack so created a assitant position and gave it to her, so she can slide into the top spot without too mcuh yelling. ITS A RIG JOB.

    as far as Gallo being a bad choice, he has more say on F&W items being on the BOARD than he would on the job!

    the F&W dept. makes recommendations and then the 14 appointed by Gov. Board members decide what the fish and wildlife will do and wont do.

    why have biologists at all? the Board decided no increase in archery season and no Oct. muzzleloader season as it would offend the anti hunters who come as tourists in leaf season....that great wildlife management ...bow to the tourists and what they want...

    an increase in license costs by up to 40% and no raises for F&W dept. personel..some got boosts by moving into newly created jobs, handy that is...

    the whole thing is a sham and the only way for Vermonters, REAL ONES, not part time residents wiht big donations to politics,the only way for us to make ourselves heard is to poach the moose and salmon, introduce lampreys and rock snot everywhere and then and only then when the whole thing ahs blown up in their faces can we fix it.
    its too late to work with these jack hole antis, and its too early to hang them yet,

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